Wild flowers growing on field margin © Tim Scrivener© Tim Scrivener

The first of a number of key deadlines for Countryside Stewardship applications is fast approaching.

NFU countryside adviser Claire Robinson said anyone aiming to enter into a higher-tier agreement for 2019 must request an application pack by 9 March 2018 or risk missing out.

“There is only one start date for higher-tier agreements so if this first deadline is missed it means waiting a further 12 months before an application can be made,” Ms Robinson said.

See also: Simplified Countryside Stewardship opens for business

Anyone with environmentally significant sites, commons and woodlands, which require complex management and include multi-year options and capital items, should be considering a higher-tier agreement, she added.

The higher-tier manual and form for requesting an application pack are available online from Defra or they can be requested by phone.

She advised applicants to check that all mapping and Basic Payment Schemes codes are up to date because the Rural Payments Agency will cross-reference all of the information. Any data that does not match up will cause delays or rejection from the scheme, she said.

Preparing to apply: steps to take

  • Use the form to request an application pack by 9 March 2018
  • Check that the information about your land parcels is up to date
  • See the statements of priorities to help choose which options to include
  • Refer to the common land and shared grazing supplement, if applicable
  • See the sample application pack to understand the information you’ll need Source: Defra

Deadlines are also looming for other agri-environment schemes such as higher-tier options and hedgerow and boundary grants.

The deadline for higher-tier applications will be earlier than last year, on 31 July.

The scheme has a range of new options that may need longer consideration so, again, it is worth making progress as soon as possible, Ms Robinson added.

In the mid-tier there are new wildlife offers available for arable, lowland grazing, mixed and uplands.

There will be additional steps the applicant needs to take to use these options in an agreement.


Higher-tier deadlines

  • Request application packs by 9 March
  • Deadline to submit initial application is 13 April
  • Notified of success or failure by early June
  • Negotiations on scheme detail concluded by mid-September
  • Agreements start 1 January 2019

Mid-tier timescales and deadlines

  • Can apply for the arable offer online from 20 February
  • Request application packs by 31 May
  • Final date to request endorsement by catchment sensitive farming officer or other adviser to approve specific options is 31 May
  • Deadline for Mid Tier applications including all supporting evidence is 31 July
  • Agreements start 1 January 2019

Hedgerow and boundary grants

  • Applications can be made online, on paper or by email 
  • Deadline is 30 April

Further advice

Contact Natural England if you have queries or difficulty using the form:
Countryside Stewardship Delivery Services, Natural England, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester, WR5 2NP

Email enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Telephone 020 8026 1089